The Rave-Ups – Tomorrow
Back in the 80s, I had a period where I listened to nothing but artists like The Reivers, The Windbreakers, Swimming Pool Q’s, Australia’s The Black Sorrows, & a Pittsburg, PA band based in CA — The Rave-Ups.
I happened on this music by accident. I like melody, good playing & arrangements. It was all interesting material, in some cases with clever song titles. It’s as if they even concentrated on the opening bars of each song to be sure there was something there to keep your ears locked on as it started. These songwriters knew song construction mattered.
So, it’s refreshing to read that The Rave-Ups were back with 11-new morsels of melodies. Like many bands that return after a long layoff, I worry about whether they’ll return with a maturity that could’ve shaved off their edge, bite, & original creative inception.
Despite not gaining world acclaim such as The Rolling Stones or The Who, The Rave-Ups did develop their own effective, potent signature repertoire. Last seen in 1990 they lost none of their charm, convincingly maneuvered through the alleys of their musical past & brought a performance that picks up where they left off.
All 3 previous Epic LPs “Town & Country,” The Book of Regrets,” & “Chance,” were well-made LPs with relevant songs. Some call this alternative rock, but I disagree. The Reivers are more Americana-based, closely associated with homeland music roots-alt-country music with vinegar & salt. Alternative rock doesn’t explore melodies with soaring harmonicas, mandolins & banjos.
OK, The Rave-Ups may graze pop styles, but that’s like saying Elvis was a country singer. He wasn’t. He explored it, sang it, covered it, but never wanted to be George Jones or Waylon Jennings.
The Rave-Ups music has contrasts — apple pie, the scent of gasoline, girls in yellow dresses, blisters on fingers, sunflowers & gun oil. Not specifically, but in feeling.
Their classics on Epic included jewels such as “Respectfully King of Pain,” & “Positively Lost Me,” — exceptional slices of cool. And it continues on a stirring tune written & inspired from a question a member’s elderly widowed father asked, “How Old Am I?” This tune comes on fortified, a ballsy rocker with a stinging U2-type guitar riff. A pure ambitious arrangement like a seasoned rock band that knows the tricks. The bonus? This song is poignant, meaningful song, not a mindless cliché-ridden lyrical trip.
Tomorrow (Drops Feb 4–Omnivore) is a 39-minute work produced by Timothy Jimenez & Terry Wilson. It restores the band’s melodic sparkling brew. “So, You Wanna Know the Truth,” — exceptional. “Brigitte Bardot,” sounds based in an up-beat 50s rockabilly/Texas 2-step gear. “Roll,” has intonation similar to John Mellencamp. “The Dream of California,” guitars jangle like The Byrds. The band is Jimmer Podrasky (lead vocals/guitars/harmonica), Terry Wilson (guitars/banjo/keys/mandolin/cross harp/vocals), Timothy Jimenez (drums/percussion/vocals), & Tommy Blatnik (bass/vocals).
A good reunion.
B&W Image courtesy: Facebook. Available @ Rough Trade + https://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/tomorrow/